Monday, January 14, 2013

Is it a good idea to encourage teens to "get sexty"?

Every once in a while, I happen upon an ad in the real world that makes me stop and ask WTF?

This one I spotted at the Rideau Centre, Ottawa's nexus of teenage wildlife. It's a campaign for The African and Caribbean Council on HIV/AIDS in Ontario (ACCHO) to encourage African, Caribbean and Black youth to get tested for HIV/AIDS.

The campaign site,, uses youthful images and language to explain the risks of HIV to s specific segment of Canadian youth.

But why "get sexty"? And why so much focus on smartphones?

If you've been isolated from all media for the past decade or so, "sexting"explicit messages or (increasingly) photos via smartphones. Some believe that it's the latest dangerous fad for teens, although it has played a part in adult political scandals. It's so popular, apparently, that new apps seemingly developed specifically for consequence-free sexting are the new thing.

What does that have to do with HIV prevention? Unless you're encouraging people to sext instead of having actual sex, not much. If I were to take a professional guess, it seems that this campaign is just trying too hard to jam as many youthful cultural references into its approach.

From the campaign site:
HT! HIG? You've just hit a totally dope site that speaks to African, Caribbean and Black youth about getting tested for HIV/AIDS. Whether you are a boy, a girl, trans, straight, lesbian, gay, bi, or questioning; Canadian-born or a newcomer ... this is all about you!
Chill out and get some of the deetz on what you need to know about HIV/AIDS testing in Ontario. Before you go make sure you check out the resources section for more info on HIV testing, healthy relationships and sexuality. Don't be shy - this is a safe place to find information or to share it. So open up and let it rip!

The "get sexty" contest references smartphones and sexting superficially, but the promotion itself has little to do with either. You don't even enter by texting — it's a simple online form.

I hate to criticize a cause with such an important mandate, but it's a shame its advertising ends up not only coming across as clueless, but as unintentionally endorsing risky teen behaviour. Better luch next time, I guess...


  1. Is it the sexty?

    Or the bad bad 90s lingo (even then it would have probably earned the ad copy guys a wtf from the cool guys)?

    Or the lazy stereotype of a black teen? Clothes, make-up, etc.?

    I actually wonder if this "important mandate" is based on any real facts at all! Do African and/or Caribbean black kids have that alarming a rate of HIV more than their other counterparts? Enough to warrant a toilet ad?

    Rideau Hall my old stomping grounds.

    Oh Canada. You stay #racialprofilingwining

    1. As a middle-aged white guy, I didn't want to accuse an Afro-Caribbean group of stereotyping its own. But it did occur to me.

    2. Oh my...that's terrible! The whole thing's all wrong. Ah well....i'm sure teens filter this kind of thing out anyway. Fortunately or unfortunately.

    3. Maybe as a middle-aged black lady I should also leave it alone lol! What do i know!